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Under TTIP, this landscape of small farms interspersed with trees and woodland in the foothills of the Alps in Bavaria, Germany, might be unable to survive. Photo: Renate Dodell via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

TTIP: the downfall of European agriculture?

Dario Sarmadi / EurActiv.de

14th January 2016

The TTIP 'trade agreement between the US and the EU would devastate EU farms as it opens them up to competition from larger, less regulated US operations, writes Dario Sarmadi. This is the conclusion of a new study to be published tomorrow, which also finds that small-scale farmers would be the first to go - with the big winners the large agri-food corporations. more...
RoundUp by Monsanto. Photo: Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube via Flickr (CC BY).

EU regulator attacks IARC scientists on weedkiller safety

Arthur Neslen / Guardian Environment

13th January 2015

A fierce dispute is raging over whether glyphosate, the world's biggest weedkiller, causes cancer, writes Arthur Neslen. The row has pitched EFSA, the EU's food regulator, against 96 of the world's top medical scientists - and comes shortly before the EU is to decide on renewing glyphosate's licence. more...
An Eastern Mountain Gorilla forages on a hillside just outside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. A large deforested buffer zone of inedible tea plants has been constructed in order to keep the gorillas from leaving the park and disrupting loca

Uganda: Save Kafuga Forest and gorillas from tea plantations

Richard Sadler

27th January 2016

Mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are at risk from tea plantations that would obliterate the adjacent Kafuga Forest, a vital buffer zone for local people, writes Richard Sadler. Deprived of foods, herbs, medicines and clean water from the forest, human pressure on the gorillas would inevitably increase, and expose them to potentially lethal diseases. more...
How much Roundup is in your breakfast cereal? We don't know, as USDA and EPA have created a bureaucratic logjam that means the 'probably carcinogenic' herbicide is not tested for. Photo: Trish via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

USDA and EPA must come clean over Roundup residues

Carey Gillam / USRTK

12th January 2016

Each year the US Department of Agriculture manages to test for over 400 pesticides in food, writes Carey Gillam. But glyphosate, the world's biggest-selling herbicide, is not among them, even as evidence of its dangers mounts. It's time for USDA and EPA to stop their buck-passing - and give consumers their right to know. more...
Dr. Shanta Karki studies rice plants being grown at IRRI's Biotech labs, which have worked on the development of Golden Rice. From the image collection of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

How GMO lobbyists taught me we're winning

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

11th January 2016

GMO promoters enthuse about how GM crops will be able to help the poor and hungry, far in the future, writes Claire Robinson. But they are silent about the currently-planted GM crops - 99% of them herbicide-tolerant or insecticidal. Could it be because opponents of the technology are being proved right at every turn? more...
Original illustration for The Rural Manifesto by Clifford Harper.

Equality in the countryside

Land Workers Alliance & The Land

7th January 2016

At a time when the Labour Party is discovering its egalitarian roots, inequality is as much of an issue in the countryside as in the city, states this 'Rural Manifesto' from the Land Workers Alliance and The Land. The neglect and exclusion of Britain's rural poor and landless farmers must end. more...
A tribal elder from the Tagbanua tribe in Quezon municipality, central Palawan. Photo: Rod Harbinson.

Philippines islanders unite to resist 'land grab' palm oil companies

Rod Harbinson

7th January 2016

Farmers on Palawan are being tricked into giving land away to palm oil companies with local government support, writes Rod Harbinson. Under the palm oil company 'leases' the farmers lose all rights to their land, never receive any money, and are saddled with 25 years of debt. Those who resist the land grabs are now in fear for their lives following the murder of a prominent campaigner. more...
Mining Bee (Andrena dunningi) on Hawthorn. Photo:  Dan Mullen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

New research exposes hidden cocktail of bee-killing pesticides in hedgerows and wildflowers

Oliver Tickell

5th January 2015

Dangerous volumes of neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides are expressed in common wild flowers like buttercups and hawthorn blossom in countryside under arable cultivation, a new study has discovered. The discovery invalidates the UK government's 'pollinator strategy' based on creating 'safe havens' in arable areas - because the havens are in fact loaded with pesticides. more...
Why did the badger cross the road? Maybe to get away from an Environment Secretary on a personal mission of death and destruction to Britain's wildlife. Photo: Badger in the Quantock Hills of Somerset by Mark Robinson via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Truss's decision: badger culling will continue, with no evidence it works

Lesley Docksey

5th January 2015

Sneaked out shortly before MP's Christmas recess, the Government's decision to 'carry on culling' badgers with no evidence that the slaughter is reducing the incidence of bovine TB is a travesty of process, writes Lesley Docksey. But it does have one useful outcome - it has exposed Defra's claims that the cull is 'science-led' as arrant nonsense. Science never even got a look in. more...
A farmer at work on his tractor amid oilseed rape (canola) in Oakwood, Derbyshire, England. Photo: John Bennett via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

To control flood - and drought - we must involve farmers

Colin Tudge

2nd January 2015

Building resilience to flood and drought is all about working with farmers, writes Colin Tudge. Simple things like ploughing across slopes, not up and down them, planting trees, and caring for soils, can make a huge difference in helping rainwater to sink into the ground, not run off. And to make it happen, the government must take a lead. more...
These Venezuelan watermelon (sandía) seeds are now protected by law from corporate takeover, while GMOs are banned. Photo: Rufino Uribe via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Venezuela's 'people as legislators' ban GMOs, protect traditional seeds

William Camacaro, Frederick B. Mills & Christina M. Schiavoni

2nd January 2015

A radical new Seed Law drafted by Venezuelan people, farmers and NGOs was signed into law in the closing days of 2015, write William Camacaro, Frederick B. Mills & Christina M. Schiavoni. Striking back against the corporate takeover of seeds and peddling of GMOs, the Seed Law bans transgenic seeds, protects the country's germplasm, and establishes the legal foundation for a participatory, agroecological food and farming system. more...
Female Agapostemon sp. sweat bee, Oregon, USA. Photo: Thomas Shahan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Farm expansion driving US native bee declines

Beyond Pesticides

28th December 2015

Wild bee decline is closely associated with the advance of intensive farming and habitat loss, a new study shows. It follows an earlier paper that linked 'delayed action' decline of wild bees to exposure to pesticides including fungicides - previously considered 'bee-safe'. more...

farming: 75/100 of 1405
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Two mature bulls amid wild flowers on the Partido de Resina bull-breeding estate in Spain. In the background, intensively managed orange and olive plantations run up to the estate boundary. Photo: Robin Irvine.

Bullfighting is conserving Spain's biodiversity - ban at nature's peril

Robin Irvine, University of St Andrews

28th December 2015

Bullfighting may cause suffering to animals, but that does not mean the EU should ban it or withdraw farm subsidies, writes Robin Irvine. Traditional bull-breeding estates are valuable reservoirs of biodiversity in intensively farmed landscapes, and without the bulls there would be nothing to sustain them. more...
No Fracking protest in London outside Parliament, 26th January 2015. Photo: The Weekly Bull via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Fracking plans are driving an even more damaging ideological agenda

Paul Mobbs

21st December 2015

The UK's insistence on opening up the UK to fracking is symptomatic of a deeper malaise, writes Paul Mobbs. Of course we need a change of government, but more than that, we need a deeper, enduring change of the nation's governance if we are ever to effect the transition to sustainable policies on energy and environment. It's time for the UK to become truly democratic. more...
Badger at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

So badger culls are working? Liz Truss, produce your evidence!

Oliver Tickell

18th December 2015

Environment Secretary Liz Truss told Parliament yesterday that England's badger cull is 'working', and needs to be extended into new areas, writes Oliver Tickell. Yet she and the NFU have refused to release the evidence to back up her claims. Now MPs and NGOs are joining the cry: 'publish or be damned!' more...
Photo: Arath Kuchi via Flickr (BY-SA)

India's top GMO regulator's 'Contempt of Court' over GM mustard trials

Colin Todhunter

15th December

India's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee stands accused of Contempt of Court for evading Supreme Court orders to carry out full biosafety tests on GM crops and publish its data, writes Colin Todhunter. The immediate issue is a herbicide tolerant GM mustard now approved for large scale trials, while earlier findings remain under an impenetrable veil of official secrecy. more...
A caged Heart of England partridge debeaked and fitted with metal beak 'bit'. Photo: League Against Cruel Sports.

The plight of the partridge: confined, distressed, maimed - then shot for fun

Dr Toni Shephard

15th December 2015

Forget pear trees. Today's partridges are unlikely to have seen much beyond the barren confines of their cages until they are released to be shot, writes Toni Shephard. A new investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports reveals that thousands of partridges will spend Christmas, like every other day, imprisoned on the farms that supply shooting estates. more...
The ban on GMO crop trials imposed by the Supreme Court is intended to protect native crop biodiversity from contamination - for example, the brinjal (aubergine), widely grown throughout the country. Photo: Judgefloro via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA).

Philippines Supreme Court bans GMO crop trials

GMWatch

13th December 2015

The Philippines were meant to be the US's sandbox for GMO development and penetration into southeast Asia, but that has all changed with a Supreme Court decision to ban GMO crop trials pending the development of new biosafety protocols. more...
First know the land. Countryside near Welwyn, England. Photo: Greg Knapp via Flickr (CC BY)

Farmers would do better to understand the land than grow GM crops

Julia Wright, Coventry University

11th April 2016

GMO crops are marketed as providing quick fixes to complex problems, writes Julia Wright. But they only perpetuate 'business as usual' farming that's depleting soils, water and biodiversity, and entrench unsustainable models of agriculture in place of agroecological systems that work with, not against, nature. more...
The problem is not just eating meat, but the kind of meat. Brazilian beef causes emissions around ten times greater than chicken. Photo: butcher's shop in Mares, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil by Vin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Can eating less meat really tackle climate change? (Yes)

Mike Berners-Lee, Lancaster University

27th January 2016

Meat is responsible for about 30% of all 'wasted calories', writes Mike Berners-Lee, so with food causing a third of all greenhouse emissions, eating less meat is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce our climate impact. But no less important is to switch from high to low-impact meats - and to do all we can to cut food waste in our kitchens. more...
Yellowstone Bison. Photo: Jitze Couperus via Flickr (CC BY).

Bloodbath in Yellowstone: the park's plan to slaughter 1,000 wild bison

George Wuerthner

14th December 2015

Yellowstone Park is home to America's last pure-bred wild bison, writes George Wuerthner. Yet the Park's management is planning to kill around a thousand of these precious animals this winter. Ostensibly it's to protect cattle on public lands near the park from brucellosis. But bison have never been known to transmit the disease to them. The real reason is to keep all the pasture for livestock. more...
Intensive cultivation of soya advancing into the forests of the Mato Grosso, Brazil. Photo: Leonardo F. Freitas via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monsanto on trial for crimes against nature and humanity

Pavlos Georgiadis

6th December 2015

Monsanto was accused of 'crimes against humanity and the environment' at COP21 in Paris this week, writes Pavlos Georgiadis. And now the evidence against it is being gathered for presentation at a 'Monsanto Tribunal' taking place next October in The Hague. more...
Soil is where our food comes from - so why don't we look after it as well as organic farmers? Photo: Soil Association.

It's time to celebrate and protect the soils that feed us!

Peter Melchett

4th December 2015

Almost all our food is grown in soil, writes Peter Melchett. Yet we are treating it like dirt: spraying it with toxic chemicals, depleting vital nutrients, and releasing its carbon to add to climate change. With World Soils Day coming up tomorrow, let's change our ways - and renew our commitment to organic food and farming. more...
Drax power station in Yorskshire, England, was to host the UK's examplar of BECCS in its White Rose project, with a planned CCS add-on. In a rare moment of santity, the UK government has pulled the funding. Photo: Ian Britton via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

COP21's climate technofix: spinning carbon into gold and the myth of 'negative emissions'

Rachel Smolker

3rd December 2015

Paris has been awash with hype about 'CO2 recycling' and 'carbon neutral' or even 'carbon negative' technologies based on burning millions of trees, writes Rachel Smolker. But the alchemical notion that waste carbon can be spun into corporate gold is hitting serious reality checks. It's time to ditch the fantasies and progress the real solutions: like caring for land, soils, forests and grasslands. more...
Enormous farms are eating deep into the forests of the Mato Grosso in Brazil - and the EU is one of the main markets for the soya they produce. Photo: Leonardo F. Freitas via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Europe must lead the way towards 'zero deforestation'

Sébastien Risso / Greenpeace Europe

11th January 2016

After years of half-hearted, ineffective polices to tackle deforestation, the EU is finally promising to take strong measures to deal with the problem, writes Sébastien Risso. Tackling illegal timber imports will be a great start, but it also needs to take on the far larger problem of deforestation for agriculture - stimulated by the EU's huge imports of palm oil, soy, beef and other commodities. more...

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